A group of parents is suing a Wisconsin school district, alleging the district’s gender affirming policy violates state law and interferes with parental rights by prohibiting teachers and staff from informing them their child has identified with the sex other than that which they were born.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, or WILL, on behalf of 14 parents says the Madison Metropolitan School District is usurping the parental role.
“Madison schools have adopted policies that violate constitutionally recognized parental rights,” WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg told WMTV. “A public school district should not, and cannot, make decisions reserved for parents.”
The Madison Metropolitan School Distrtict’s Guidance & Policies to Support Transgender, Non-binary & Gender-Expansive Students does not require parental consent for a student to alter their gender identity at school and prohibits staff from discussing or disclosing it to parents without the child’s consent.
The policy was adopted in 2018, according to the Associated Press.
In December, WILL demanded MMSD change its policy or be sued.
District spokesman Tim LeMonds said MMSD had not yet been served with the suit, but stood by the policy.
“MMSD prioritizes working in collaboration with families to support our students and it is always our preferred method of support,” he told WMTV. “MMSD must also prioritize the safety and wellbeing of every individual student who walks through its doors each day.”
The policy says that the district strives “to model gender-inclusive language that affirms the gender diversity of our MMSD students, staff, and families and disrupts the gender binary.”
The lawsuit described the policy as allowing all of its students to switch sexes by adapting different names and pronouns without parental consent.
District staff are also barred from disclosing the change to the parents.
Staff are even encouraged to deceive parents by using the students’ legal names when conversing with families, the Milwaukee-based WILL claimed.
The lawsuit claims that by withholding information about a child’s gender dysphoria, which it says is “often associated with significant psychological distress,” it is denying the parents information needed to make decisions about their mental health care.
It also says the policy violates Wisconsin’s “general rule” requiring parents give consent to medical treatments for their children.